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Cleaning up the Ventura River

Ventura River Clean-UpPulling old dolls, smashed bicycles and discarded tires out of the river isn’t what everyone wants to do on their holiday, but for some 50 volunteers on Presidents’ Day, that’s exactly what they did; and the river was better off for it.

Ojai people of all ages came together with trashcans and buckets and collected just over a ton of trash which had washed into the Ventura River where the Happy Valley Drain empties out over the cliff next to Rice Road. Besides sheets of plywood, lumber, tarps, wire, bottles, plastic bags and other garbage there was also an immense amount of micro trash; small pieces of glass, styrofoam and bits of plastic. Volunteers wearing rubber boots even braved a pond of filthy water to haul out old soaked sleeping bags and mattresses.

The project was the brainchild of Smitty West who noticed the build-up of trash and brought the project idea to the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy. Smith offered his Rice Road Euterpe Farms as the staging and meeting spot for the project. At the beginning of the project, West and the OVLC’s Rick Bisaccia gave a talk to the participants about different kinds of water pollution affecting the Ventura River and what was being done about it. The project had the feeling of an old barn-raising, where big projects are made small while the community grows closer together.

West and his musical partner Julija, along with other musicians, performed for the workers following the trash pick up, and everyone left feeling good about contributing to a cleaner river. Keeping trash out of the river is an important part of protecting fish and wildlife along the river, as well as the ocean downstream. Cleaner waterways also contribute to overall community health. We appreciate all the time our volunteers put into the project.

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